Become Less Self-Conscious, Part II

Back in November, I shared a vlog post on becoming less self-conscious. I have more on that, as it is still something I am working on. I find that when I go back to my university, it stresses me out like nothing else. I still worry what people think of me, particularly people I have grown apart from.

So I tried to write a letter to a friend from uni who I’ve grown apart from. She has told me herself that she is unabashedly “snobby” (she went to Exeter), and although she isn’t the first person you might think of as such, it resonated with the vibe I was getting from her in those days. Now in my letter I started talking about myself and, oddly enough, the negative aspects of my current journey. Or rather, just trying to explain myself and why I’ve been treating her with resentment. Unconsciously, I was attempting to justify myself and couldn’t stop dwelling on the fear of her judgment of me. I saw that we were undermining each other through mutual fear and bad faith.

Then I remembered something from my self-confidence trial: just as I used to just bombard myself with negative thoughts about myself, and had to suddenly say no them to reach self-confidence, I was bombarding her with negative thoughts and affirmations. I was affirming her judgment of me, by dwelling on it. I was affirming her fears, as well as my own. I was rationalizing them.

This is not worth it. I said “STOP!” to that train of thought. So now I am choosing to make affirmations of different sort: Just look at her and see the beauty there. Forget all else. Forget the pain, forget regrets, forget yesterday. It’s not about whether she is snobbish or thinks I’m a piece of crap or stupid or pathetic. I’m going to make the affirmation that those thoughts aren’t there for her. That she has total confidence in me.

She sees the beauty in me. She is great at seeing the strengths of others (that’s something I appreciated about her before we grew apart). I must find her strengths, even as I seek out my own. What’s so beautiful about her? Find that! Seek it! Don’t look back! Keep going, keep going, find the beauty!

We are blessed with mind-reading superpowers. But, with great power comes great responsibility. We can use it to read negative, hurtful intentions and focus on them and undermine each other. Or we can use these powers to seek out the positive, to affirm it and bring it out. If we use this power well, we will all be happier for it.

The Act

Although I was thinking of myself as an actress in terms of saying “I am self-confident,” it wasn’t always enough, because I was not thinking of myself as an actress in terms of saying of others, “they have confidence in me.” Since our understanding of others is a reflection of ourselves, by thinking that they didn’t have confidence in me and focusing on that, I was, without realizing it, doubting myself. My affirmations of self-confidence were simultaneously being undermined by myself. No wonder I kept going back and forth between feeling self-confident and not.

Now I will act as if this is already so, as if everyone has confidence in me, as if the whole world celebrates my beauty, my strengths, my happiness. This will be my point of departure rather than merely my goal. I can stop trying at the goal and start being the goal. I will be their confidence in me, rather than their doubting and their weakness.

This – this act – is faith.

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11 Responses to Become Less Self-Conscious, Part II

  1. Pingback: Self-Conscious? A way out.

  2. Fred Tracy says:

    Absolutely true. I struggled with being over self conscious for years. Some times I still do it. Whenever those thoughts return now – and they do with continually lessening frequency – I simply look at them as if they’re nothing. I don’t even argue with them or try to stop them. I just ignore them.

    The saying seems to be true: “What you resist, persists!”

    Great blog by the way.

    • Thanks for sharing, Fred. I’ve heard about a lot of people working up their confidence in similar ways; it’s good to hear those stories. 🙂 I’ve never thought of it in terms of arguing with oneself, but you’re right. If someone tries to argue you with you pointlessly (as often happens online), the best route is just to ignore them, not feed them or lose yourself trying to argue with ’em. Same goes with the self. Don’t even try to argue with your negative thoughts; just say no to them.

  3. Fred Tracy says:

    Since I’m subscribed here, do you have a Twitter? I’d like to keep in touch. This is good stuff. 🙂

    • Hmm, I have two Twitter accounts, but haven’t used either of them to connect to this blog (I haven’t been using Twitter much lately). Tell ya what, for now I will update one of them whenever I have a new post, since you’re interested. You can follow qiumazenmind.

      Do you ever use Google Reader? That’s how I prefer to keep up with blogs, since I follow dozens of them. But I understand each person has their own preference, so I’m definitely willing to update Twitter.

      Thanks for your interest. 🙂

  4. Dominic says:

    I loved the post, purely because I can relate to it so closely. Recently I have been using the technique of conditioning the fact that ‘I am a good person, I enjoy being a good person and good people don’t worry about what others think of them’ because if they actually knew us they would see what good people we are! You are a good person! You have the right to feel completely as ease!


  5. Update: So I went back to campus two days ago and saw my friends again. What a different experience. I spent the whole past three weeks thinking about how unpleased I was with the previous experience, and changing it in my head. So the next time I was there, I was ready.

    When I saw one of them, I brought her a piece of vegan cornbread that I made and chatted for a while. This time we had each other’s full attention the whole time. I asked her about her life, and she went into detail. It started off a little awkward, and there was some relative awkwardness the entire time. It didn’t feel like when we used to be really close, but I also felt no resentment, no worries, no noteworthy doubt of her or myself.

    I also saw my old roomie again and gave her a hug and smiled a lot… she told me, “You look great.” I think she must have been judging from my beaming smile. It felt really good to get this interaction “right,” without all that self-conscious baggage. I saw her again yesterday and we chatted a bit. She asked me how I was doing on a scale of 1 to 10. I said 8. I felt unusually comfortable chatting with her that time.

    Mmn. 🙂

  6. Alex says:

    I really liked what you had to say in one of your comments about not giving energy to the negative thoughts. I used to try to argue with myself, or force the negative thoughts out. All it ever did was give more power to the negativity. I did some research and found cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy the best tools that I could use to deflect the negative thoughts without giving them more energy. The best part was that I could research these on the web and start using them even without paying for a professional counselor. I am not suggesting someone not go to counseling, I think that it is a great help to many people! Unfortunately, some people do not have the insurance or the cash to pay for it.

    I am really enjoying reading your articles. Keep up the great work!

  7. Laura says:

    Hi there,

    I came across a thread you started on another site (in 2009) which was exactly the kind of thread of information I was looking for, which was asking people about their self-discipline stories.

    I am a member of Toastmasters International and I am going my tenth speech soon which I am basing on self-discipline as the main skill for anyone to focus on to achieve that which they have had trouble achieving. I have recently realised that you can’t acheive any of things that you want to achieve but never have, until you recognise your lack of self discpline in that arena. For me, self-discipline is attached to being an adult… and I am catapulted towards gaining increased self-discpline because at 26, I should have adult skills! I see those younger than me starting business and succeeding… and when I tried, I discovered I had no self discipline. I am now focussing on organising my domestic life… tidying, dusting, hoover… and a little on eating better food. Once I have improved this I will work on my social life and take small steps each time.

    Anyway…. I wanted to reach out and say thank you for using the internet as a way to talk about your inner thoughts etc to sort them out. It was nice to come accross someone having similar thoughts (because of course, everyone else is just naturally normal in the head and does not think about confidence and ability etc! (sarcasm))

    In the UK, there is a kids programme called Horrible Histories. Oddly enough, despite being on a personal quest since the age of 18, it was discovering and watching this crazy history programme that has totally changed my perspective in life. I understand where, as a species, we come from. I understand what our ancestors lived like and endured. It has helped me understand my place in the world. I am not a Roman Emperor, I am not a Victorian Peasant… nor am the most confident and perfect person in the world…. I am just a person…. very fortuante to live in times of such comfort and blessed to have those comforts, not just see others with them.

    As a business student at Uni, I had to ask my friend my strengths and weaknesses for my own SWOT anaylsis. I was amazed at the nice things he said about men. It sounds like your friend also sees how great you are.

    I wish you all the best,


  8. Anne says:

    This is such a timely post for me to be reading! A few weeks ago I realized how foolish I have been; walking around thinking about how fat and ugly I am. If that’s what I am thinking then of course I am giving others permission to think that as well. I changed my thought process and began thinking really good things about myself. I then imagined that spilling over into my conversations and exuding a sort of enthusiasm about myself. Like attracts Like and I am DONE attracting negativity!

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